Thursday, September 17, 2009

Concert Review - Porcupine Tree

Imagine that it's 1974 and you are all fired up to see Genesis in concert. You have your best pin stripes on, your mutton chops are primped and your are ready to hear I Know What I Like, Firth of Fifth and the epic album side Supper's Ready. The band has a new album, a concept album - a double album actually. And you have heard it's good but it just came out and you haven't gotten around to buying it yet.

You get to the show and the band plays the new album, all four sides, all the way through. It's called The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and it's got great moments but damn it's hard to take this all in, there's so much! You would either be royally peeved that you don't know the songs, or you'd be completely blown away.

That was the experience at the Roseland Wednesday night, where Porcupine Tree played the second show of their tour backing The Incident, a concept album that came out on Tuesday.

Now, I am going to be up front and say that I only got into Porcupine Tree a few years ago and only have the last four albums (including The Incident). I don't have any of the EPs, old stuff, or even Steven Wilson's solo album Insurgentes (yet). So I am not going to be able to do the show great justice by going through the songs they played and all the nuances, because aside from the smattering of stuff from the last four albums, I was hearing a lot of this for the first time.

What I wasn't hearing for the first time was the new album, which I don't think I will be blowing the set list to tell you they do the 55 minute The Incident all the way through, right out of the gate. Luckily I bought the CD yesterday and listened to it enough to feel like I could write a review on the thing. So I knew what was coming and was really looking forward to seeing the whole thing live.

But I have to give it to the audience. The vast majority had for sure not gotten around to buying the album. But they for the most part stayed engaged and paid attention. It was like those British shows you hear about back in the 70s when the audience were completely silent until the end of the song. The band seemed to appreciate it and Wilson even thanked us for the good energy we brought, saying they were really nervous the previous night in Seattle but felt much better tonight, in large part due to the audience.

As I said in the CD review, the new album is not as heavy as the last one, and there is more melodic stuff -- acoustic guitars and piano, and less thundering riffage. Second set, when they dove into some of the older stuff, all of that heavy energy came back on display. Drummer Gavin Harrison in particular was mind numbingly awesome. But if you even care to read about Porcupine Tree on this blog, I am preaching to the choir. You know what you are going to get, and you know you are going to love it. Go to the damn show, but you'll like it better if you listen to the new album first.

Look at it this way - In a recent interview with Wilson, he said he was trying to bring back the era where people listened to albums all the way through, like watching a movie. I mean, this concert was like going to a movie you had never seen before. The band took the audience on a journey and luckily it seemed most people were up for it and had a nice trip.

PS - I didn't take the photo, it was from this site. They asked that nobody take cell phone or any other kinds of photos or videos, and that we'd be asked to leave if we did. But I was about as close to the stage as that photo, which was a hell of a treat, as the place was about sold out, which means about 1,500 people, I think.


Michael Walsh said...

Sounds so excellent. I wish I could see them on this tour. New York isn't possible this week and neither is Boston on Sunday. I saw them on FoaBP tour in Hartford in 2007, and that was amazing. I really want to see them perform The Incident live. I just hope when they finish up touring overseas in Europe they give a more comprehensive tour in the states.

calcio4us said...

I was in Seattle and Portland and just saw them in Baltimore through some very fortunate scheduling....Okay, I first saw Genesis in 1977, and a bunch of other prog bands - Yes, ELP, UK, King Crimson, PFM over the years and Steve Wilson need not fear labels....I am not concerned about labels - all I know is that The Incident IS POWERFUL AND COMPELLING - years from now I know I will be thankful for having bent time and spent way too much money to BE THERE...I'm a 47 year old Major in the Air Force for crying out loud...what am I doing flying around the country with my son following a band that plays such dark (and energizing!) Music? Feeling what made my youth so fantastic in the first place- no high from a drug is like the high you can get seeing and hearing a band of brilliant musicians at their peak and this is an incredible moment for this band- debate all you like about the place PT holds in prog rock circles or the place Prog holds in music...what I know is true is that this is damn unique music and my wife, son and I feel special that we have been able to see them perform this Masterpiece! And they will be touring the US again in the Spring...hopefully to perform the entire INCIDENT one more time! ELECTRICITY FROM PT IN ME! ITS ALL IN ME ALL IN YOU........ : )

Unknown said...

At Philadephia show. I have felt like the only fan in southern Delaware to have heard of PT. No need to repeat- great, musicianship, theater, intelligent lyricsnow I try to turn on as many people as possible. I simply play Time Flies and people love them.